The Totnes REconomy Project was launched in 2011 by a group of enthusiastic community members who were interested doing something to strengthen the local economy. We called it the Totnes REconomy Project, but really it’s not just one project, but lots of smaller projects and activities.
We began by joining together with members of the Town Council, the chief executive of South Hams District Council, members of the Development Trust, Schumacher College, KEVICC, and South Devon College to study the local economy and identify opportunities for local people. It took over a year and we called it the Local Economic Blueprint. In this work, we identified opportunities for local businesses worth millions of pounds and hundreds of new jobs in sectors like food, renewable energy, residential energy efficiency, and health and care services. We also identified ways in which our community can work together to realise some of these opportunities. You can find a copy at the library, or online at tinyurl.com/totnesleb
Then, we started up an event called the Local Entrepreneur Forum to bring together people interested in starting businesses, local investors and business experts, so that new local enterprises could start up and thrive. We think anyone can be a successful entrepreneur with a supportive community behind them. And we think anyone can be an investor, too. Because people starting new companies need all kinds of support – money, help with business plans, a place to work, land, expert advice, moral support, home cooked meals, child care, even hugs! – everyone in the community can find a way to support their friends and neighbours who are taking a risk to start something new. In four events, we’ve raised over £65,000 for 14 local enterprises.
“When people started pledging their support, I was blown away.” - Laura, School Farm CSA, LEF 2013
This year our event was on May 14th. You can learn more online at tinyurl.com/2015lef
And if people are starting up new livelihoods and new enterprises, especially ones that will benefit the community, then they’ll need a place to work and a place to get business support. So, with the help of the South Hams District Council, we started the REconomy Centre. It’s located at 13 Leechwell Street – just across from the Lamb garden. It’s a place to work, connect with peers, and learn – we run lots of workshops throughout the year, on topics that can help anyone get started in business, and most of them are free or by gift. We like to use the word ‘gift’ instead of donation, because we think we can get a lot more done if we think about exchanging our gifts. In fact, that’s how the REconomy Centre works – it’s based on gifts. So, it’s very easy to become a member and get involved – whether you need a place to get your new enterprise started or would like to lend you business experience to someone else just starting out. If you’d like to learn more, see the website or come by for a visit.
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For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01803 867358.